The Syrian capital witnesses unprecedented traffic jams these days. Beginning from the early hours and lasting until the end of the day.
Residents spend most of their time on the road, waiting for signal to pass through a checkpoint. With the return of students to universities and institutes, the traffic jams have only increased along with a sudden increase in the number of military checkpoints and roadblocks on public roads.
Barriers are made from sandbags and soil and a group of soldiers dressed in full military uniforms are stationed. Huge concrete and iron slabs are positioned to form the checkpoint, where the officers order car trunks to be opened and demand personal identity papers. After the initial inspection, the questions begin: Where did you come from? And where are you going to? Quickly the queue grows.
Continuous fighting between the armed opposition fighters and the pro-regime forces have pushed the latter to isolate the city center from rebel areas of Damascus through the deployment of military checkpoints at all the entrances and exits leading to the capital.
These measures have caused an increase of traffic jams, which affect the time taken for students and employers, who are the ones mostly affected by these actions.
Salma, a doctor, 26, working at the Damascus branch of the International Red Cross lives in the city of Jaramana, 4km southeast of Damascus. She works in the area of Malki, one of the most prestigious neighborhoods of the capital. She suffers daily with the barriers in Jaramana which double the time required to reach her work.
And about her daily trauma, Salma says: "The roads in Damascus are unbearable,there is a barrier every 100 meters. The roads are crowded most of the time, which means that we have to stop at the checkpoint for more than one hour in the mornings and afternoons. This is at the expense of my time. My nerves are tired of the long wait," she says.
Muaayad, a 22-year-old college student at the University of Damascus,lives in the Fahhameh district of central Damascus. He leaves the house early and prefers to walk to the university, which lies about 2km from his home.
Muaayad explains that the roads are always crowded. "It took me about ten minutes to reach the university from my home beofre. Now I need at least an hour and a half because the jam starts early in the morning. Sometimes the line of cars extends from the Fahhamehto al-Mujtahed Hospital because of the barrier before the main square."
Salma recounted a funnny incident recently: "Once I was on a taxi. The driver was from the security forces and he was armed for sure. We stop at Jaramana barrier for about an hour to check the cars with metal detectors. The taxi passed and the device didn’t make any sound, the driver stepped out of the car and told the security members on the checkpoint that he is with them and he has a weapon and that the device didn’t recognize it… So why the traffic jam? The members at the checkpoint realized that they had forgotten to turn the device on."
Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer